Tag Archives: Encryption

Is WhatsApp Forcing You To Share Data With Facebook In February 2021?

Is WhatsApp Forcing Us To Share Data With Facebook In February 2021?

Many websites are claiming that WhatsApp is forcing us to share our data with Facebook in February 2021.

Find out what’s going on, and what the FACTS really are!

 

WhatsApp Sharing Data With Facebook : What’s Going On?

We wrote about this earlier, but it looks like many websites (including very influential ones) are still peddling the claim that WhatsApp is going to force us to share data with Facebook in February 2021.

It all started with this pop-up alert that started appearing on WhatsApp a few days ago, alerting us to a change in its terms and privacy policy.

You must accept this new privacy policy to continue using WhatsApp from 8 February 2021 onwards. Otherwise, the alert subtly suggests, you should “delete your account”.

Since then, numerous articles have been written about how this new privacy policy is forcing us to share our WhatsApp data with Facebook.

This has led to many people switching to alternatives like Telegram and Signal, in fear that the new privacy policy would allow Facebook to access and read all of their WhatsApp messages.

 

No, WhatsApp Is Not Forcing You To Share Data With Facebook

As we shared earlier, NO, the new WhatsApp privacy policy does not force you to share data with Facebook, because…

Fact #1 : It Has Been A Requirement Since September 2016!

It is perplexing why so many websites claim that this new privacy policy forces us to let WhatsApp share data with Facebook. After all, this has been a requirement since September 2016!

Back in August 2016, WhatsApp announced that they would start sharing data with Facebook. At that time, they gave existing users 30 days to opt-out.

This was a one-time offer that has never been repeated. Since then, every new and current user MUST agree to let WhatsApp share data with Facebook.

Fact #2 : WhatsApp Will Still Honour The Opt-Out

If you are a WhatsApp veteran who opted out of data sharing in August 2016, WhatsApp will still honour that opt-out.

You can safely agree to the new privacy policy – your data opt-out will remain active.

Fact #3 : WhatsApp Will Share MORE Information With Facebook

The new WhatsApp privacy policy is mainly focused on enabling Businesses on WhatsApp.

So while they DO NOT need your permission to continue sharing data with Facebook, they still need your permission to SHARE MORE data with Facebook.

This is the list of additional data that we must agree to let WhatsApp share with Facebook :

  • Status Information. You may provide us your status if you choose to include one on your account. Learn how to use status on Android, iPhone, or KaiOS.
  • Transactions And Payments Data. If you use our payments services, or use our Services meant for purchases or other financial transactions, we process additional information about you, including payment account and transaction information. Payment account and transaction information includes information needed to complete the transaction (for example, information about your payment method, shipping details and transaction amount). If you use our payments services available in your country or territory, our privacy practices are described in the applicable payments privacy policy.
  • Location Information. We collect and use precise location information from your device with your permission when you choose to use location-related features, like when you decide to share your location with your contacts or view locations nearby or locations others have shared with you. There are certain settings relating to location-related information which you can find in your device settings or the in-app settings, such as location sharing. Even if you do not use our location-related features, we use IP addresses and other information like phone number area codes to estimate your general location (e.g., city and country). We also use your location information for diagnostics and troubleshooting purposes.
  • User Reports. Just as you can report other users, other users or third parties may also choose to report to us your interactions and your messages with them or others on our Services; for example, to report possible violations of our Terms or policies. When a report is made, we collect information on both the reporting user and reported user.
  • Businesses On WhatsApp. Businesses you interact with using our Services may provide us with information about their interactions with you. We require each of these businesses to act in accordance with applicable law when providing any information to us.When you message with a business on WhatsApp, keep in mind that the content you share may be visible to several people in that business. In addition, some businesses might be working with third-party service providers (which may include Facebook) to help manage their communications with their customers. For example, a business may give such third-party service provider access to its communications to send, store, read, manage, or otherwise process them for the business. To understand how a business processes your information, including how it might share your information with third parties or Facebook, you should review that business’ privacy policy or contact the business directly.

Fact #4 : WhatsApp + Facebook Cannot Read Your Messages

WhatsApp finished implementing end-to-end encryption on 5 April 2016, about 4.5 months before instituting the requirement to share data with Facebook.

Since then, WhatsApp nor Facebook can no longer read your messages, as they are encrypted. Only the sender and receiver(s) can read them.

WhatsApp shares a considerable amount of data and metadata that Facebook can use to identify and track your movements and activities. But not the content of your messages.

Fact #5 : Telegram Is Less Secure!

For those who are fleeing to Telegram, you should note that Telegram does not encrypt messages (only Secret Chats).

In fact, all of your data – messages, photos, videos, documents – are stored in Telegram servers. Even though they are encrypted in storage, Telegram holds the encryption keys, NOT YOU.

In contrast, WhatsApp data is only stored in your devices. WhatsApp also does not retain messages in their servers after they are delivered, and will only store files (like photos and videos) and undelivered messages for 30 days.

WhatsApp will, however, store the time and date of the messages you send and receive.

Fact #6 : Signal Is The Most Secure Alternative

Those who want a more private and secure messenger should opt for Signal, instead of Telegram.

It offers end-to-end encryption using the open-source Signal protocol, the same protocol which WhatsApp uses in its own proprietary format.

On top of that, it offers a Sealed Sender feature which prevents everyone – including Signal – from knowing the sender and recipient of a message.

But best of all, Signal does not share your data with any third-party company. In fact, the only metadata it collects is your phone number, and even that is not linked to your identity.

That said, Signal lacks features found in WhatsApp and Telegram, so we cannot call it the best alternative, only the most secure alternative.

 

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VMware vSphere 7 Now Supports AMD SEV-ES Encryption!

VMware just announced that vSphere 7 Update 1 will add support for AMD SEV-ES encryption!

Find out what this means for enterprise security, and the future of AMD EPYC processors!

 

AMD SEV-ES Encryption : What Is It?

SEV-ES, short for Secure Encrypted Virtualization-Encrypted State, is a hardware-accelerated encryption capability in AMD EPYC processors.

Leveraging both the AMD Secure Processor and the AES-128 encryption engine built into every AMD EPYC processor, SEV-ES encrypts all CPU register contents when a virtual machine stops running.

This prevents the leakage of information from the CPU registers to components like the hypervisor. It can even detect malicious modifications to a CPU register state.

 

VMware vSphere 7 Now Supports AMD SEV-ES Encryption!

VMware vSphere 7 Update 1 adds support for both AMD SEV-ES and AMD EPYC processors.

The AMD Secure Processor in the first-generation EPYC processors can handle up to 15 encryption keys.

That increases to more than 500 encryption keys with the second-generation EPYC processors.

ESXi has many layers of isolation within its virtualised infrastructure, but all of that is implemented in software. They still require a level of trust in the hardware, which is where AMD SEV-ES comes in.

A guest operating system that supports SEV can ask the AMD Secure Processor to issue it an encryption key, for full in-memory, in-hardware encryption.

SEV-ES extends that protection to CPU registers, so that the data inside the CPU itself is encrypted. This protects the data from being read or modified when the virtual machine stops running.

Even a compromised hypervisor that accesses the register data cannot make use of it, because it is now encrypted.

Needless to say, adding support for AMD SEV-ES in vSphere 7 will spur the uptake of AMD EPYC processors in the datacenter.

 

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Google Cloud Confidential VM With 2nd Gen AMD EPYC!

Google recently introduced Confidential Computing, with Confidential VM as the first product, and it’s powered by 2nd Gen AMD EPYC!

Here’s an overview of Confidential Computing and Confidential VM, and how they leverage the 2nd Gen AMD EPYC processor!

 

Google Cloud Confidential Computing : What Is It?

Google Cloud encrypts customer data while it’s “at-rest” and “in-transit“. But that data must be decrypted because it can be processed.

Confidential Computing addresses that problem by encrypting data in-use – while it’s being processed. This ensures that data is kept encrypted while in memory and outside the CPU.

 

Google Cloud Confidential VM, Powered By 2nd Gen AMD EPYC

The first product that Google is unveiling under its Confidential Computing portfolio is Confidential VM, now in beta.

Confidential VM basically adds memory encryption to the existing suite of isolation and sandboxing techniques Google Cloud uses to keep their virtual machines secure and isolated.

This will help customers, especially those in regulated industries, to better protect sensitive data by further isolating their workloads in the cloud.

Google Cloud Confidential VM : Key Features

Powered By 2nd Gen AMD EPYC

Google Cloud Confidential VM runs on N2D series virtual machines powered by the 2nd Gen AMD EPYC processors.

It leverages the Secure Encrypted Virtualisation (SEV) feature in 2nd Gen AMD EPYC processors to keep VM memory encrypted with a dedicated per-VM instance key.

These keys are generated and managed by the AMD Secure Processor inside the EPYC processor, during VM creation and reside only inside the VM – making them inaccessible to Google, or any other virtual machines running on the host.

Your data will stay encrypted while it’s being used, indexed, queried, or trained on. Encryption keys are generated in hardware, per virtual machine and are not exportable.

Confidential VM Performance

Google Cloud worked together with the AMD Cloud Solution team to minimise the performance impact of memory encryption on workloads.

They added support for new OSS drivers (name and gvnic) to handle storage traffic and network traffic with higher throughput than older protocols, thus ensuring that Confidential VM will perform almost as fast as non-confidential VM.

Easy Transition

According to Google, transitioning to Confidential VM is easy – all Google Cloud Platform (GCP) workloads can readily run as a Confidential VM whenever you want to.

Available OS Images

In addition to the hardware-based inline memory encryption, Google built Confidential VM on top of Shielded VM, to harden your OS image and verify the integrity of your firmware, kernel binaries and drivers.

Google currently offers images of Ubuntu v18.094, Ubuntu 20.04, Container Optimized OS (COS v81), and RHEL 8.2.

They are currently working with CentOS, Debian and other distributors to offer additional OS images for Confidential VM.

 

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FB Messenger, Instagram + WhatsApp Integration Clarified!

Since the story broke about the Facebook Messenger, Instagram and WhatsApp integration plan, the world exploded in a mixture of shock, apoplexy, and righteous indignation.

Take a DEEP BREATH and CALM DOWN. Let us tell you exactly what the FB Messenger + Instagram + WhatsApp integration plan is really about, and what it really means for Facebook and all of us…

 

The FB Messenger + Instagram + WhatsApp Integration Plan Clarified!

What Is Going On?

The New York Times broke the story on 25 January 2019, that Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg is working to integrate the messaging services that power Facebook Messenger, Instagram and WhatsApp.

Essentially, he wants all three platforms to use the same messaging platform or protocol to communicate.

Are The Three Apps Being Merged?

NO.

Some reports (looking at your, Forbes and BBC!) have claimed that WhatsApp is merging with Facebook Messenger and Instagram, or that WhatsApp and Instagram will be integrated with Facebook Messenger. That is NOT TRUE.

Facebook is not going to combine all three apps into a single mega-app – the one app to rule them all. WhatsApp, Instagram and Facebook Messenger will continue to be separate apps.

What Exactly Has Changed?

NOTHING at the moment. This FB Messenger + Instagram + WhatsApp integration project is scheduled to be completed by the end of 2019, or early 2020.

Until the new unified messaging protocol is complete and implemented in all three apps, nothing will change. At the moment, all three apps continue to use their existing messaging protocols.

What We Know About The Messenger + Instagram + WhatsApp Integration Plan So Far

Let’s enumerate what we know about the FB Messenger + Instagram + WhatsApp integration plan :

  1. All three apps will still function independently
  2. All three apps will use the same messaging protocol
  3. The new unified messaging protocol will support end-to-end encryption

Why Does Facebook Want To Do This?

Migrating all three apps to a unified messaging protocol or platform has some real advantages for Facebook :

  • far less work is needed to maintain a single platform or set of protocols, than three different platforms or sets of protocols
  • it will extend the reach of their three apps, helping to “encourage” users of one app to use the other two apps.
  • it will make it easier for them to harvest more information, to create more accurate user profiles.
  • it should make it easier to introduce or extend new features into all three apps, e.g. time-limited Stories.

Is This Good Or Bad For Users?

There are some potential advantages for users…

  • users of any one of those three apps will be able to communicate with each other, without installing the other apps.
  • users of any one of those three apps will be able to share data (photos, videos, files, etc.) with each other, without installing the other apps.
  • it will introduce end-to-end encryption to Instagram, which does not yet support it.
  • potentially, it could mean end-to-end encryption will be enabled by default for Facebook Messenger (which currently only supports end-to-end encryption if you turn on Secret Conversations).
  • it could promote greater accountability and transparency, with a reduction in fake accounts and profiles.

On the other hand, the tighter integration has some serious potential ramifications…

  • it will be harder to obfuscate or separate your profile in one app, from your profiles in the other two apps.
  • any bug or vulnerability in the unified messaging protocol will affect all three apps.
  • any successful attack will cause far greater damage, with far more data lost or stolen.
  • it does not address serious privacy concerns – even if end-to-end encryption is enabled by default for all three apps in the new unified messaging protocol, the metadata isn’t.
  • it may make it more difficult for users to consider alternative apps or services.
  • abusing one app (intentional or otherwise) could get you banned or blocked on all three apps.

How Serious Are These Concerns?

The New York Times reported that Mark Zuckerberg’s “championing” of the FB Messenger + Instagram + WhatsApp integration plan led to “internal strife” over privacy concerns. How bad?

Apparently, it led to the founders of both Instagram (Kevin System and Mike Krieger) and WhatsApp (Jan Koum and Brian Acton) leaving Facebook. Dozens of WhatsApp employees also clashed with Mark Zuckerberg over this integration plan.

But Don’t Panic Just Yet…

There is no need to be one of those headless chickens running around, screaming that the world has ended or is about to end. The WhatsApp Messenger you have come to rely on has not changed, or will change for many more months to come.

The project is still in its infancy. Facebook is internally planning to complete the project by the end of 2019, and probably early 2020. There is still the better part of the year to consider alternative messaging apps out there.

 

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Kingston IronKey D300S Encrypted USB Drive Launched!

Kingston Technology just introduced an improved version of their D300 encrypted USB drive – the Kingston IronKey D300S. Find out what’s new and improved in the Kingston D300S encrypted USB drive!

 

The Kingston IronKey D300S Encrypted USB Drive Launched!

The new Kingston IronKey D300S encrypted USB drive introduces two new features to enhance its advanced level of security and ability to safeguard sensitive data.

Serialised Drive

IronKey D300S will have a unique serial number and bar code on the drive itself that allows network administrators to read or scan the code instead of plugging it into the drive.

When a drive is deployed, returned or during any physical auditing or asset management of hardware, this feature will make the process more efficient and streamlined.

Virtual Keyboard

The second feature, a virtual keyboard will enable users to enter a password with clicks of the mouse instead of a physical keyboard. It provides a greater level of protection against any possible keylogging when using D300S on other computers.

“We’re not content on standing pat with any of our products, no matter how good they are,” said Kingston “The data protection provided by IronKey D300 is already top notch, and we’ve listened to requests from our customers. These two enhancements in the D300 series add to its industry-leading data-protection capabilities. With Kingston’s 30-plus years of expertise in quality technology solutions behind it, along with the latest NAND Flash memory and controller technology, users of any D300 drive can rest assure that their confidential data and information are well protected from the risks and threats associated with loss, theft, or stolen digital devices.”

 

Kingston IronKey D300S Price + Availability

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The new Kingston IronKey D300S drives will also be available as a Managed model (D300SM) that requires IronKey EMS or SafeConsole by DataLocker , allowing central management of drive access and usage across thousands of drives.

This will be the first IronKey drive that will be supported on SafeConsole, thus enabling it to be used by customers who already have it installed.

IronKey D300SM will be available in the first quarter of 2019.

 

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My Knox Is Dead. Long Live Samsung Secure Folder!

Samsung announced in June 2017 that they were killing off My Knox, replacing it with Samsung Secure Folder that ships with the Samsung Galaxy S8 / S8 Plus and Galaxy Note8 smartphones.

Secure Folder is compatible with the Samsung Galaxy S7 and Galaxy S7 edge smartphones that have been upgraded to Android 7.0 Nougat.

Updated @ 2017-12-22 : Revamped the article, adding a migration guide, and a final email from Samsung.

Updated @ 2017-11-16 : Added a new email from Samsung with a confirmed end-of-service date for My Knox.

Originally posted @ 2017-06-07

 

Samsung Kills My Knox

In early June 2017, Samsung announced that they’re killing My Knox, and replacing it with Secure Folder. The end-of-life date was set for 19 December 2017.

Beginning 20 December 2017, the My Knox app would no longer be available to download from the Google Play Store. The My Knox portal will also be disabled – you won’t be able to login.

Samsung replaced My Knox with their new Secure Folder solution. They promise that it is a superior solution.

 

Samsung Secure Folder

Samsung Secure Folder is a new security solution that leverages the defense-grade Samsung Knox security platform to create a private, encrypted space on a Samsung Galaxy smartphone running on Android 7.0 Nougat or better.

It is available in the Samsung Galaxy S8 / S8 Plus and Galaxy Note8 smartphones, but can be downloaded and installed in the Samsung Galaxy S7 and Galaxy S7 edge smartphones that have been upgraded to Android 7.0 Nougat.

As no Mobile Device Management (MDM) is required, it is suitable for both personal and business usage. Here are additional details :

  • Apps and data can be installed or created within Secure Folder, or moved there from outside.
  • Apps and data moved to Secure Folder are kept separate, leveraging SE for Android – preventing unauthorized communication between apps inside and outside.
  • Application data and files are encrypted with defense-grade Sensitive Data Protection (SDP) technology – using 256-bit AES cipher algorithm to secure data.
  • Data remains encrypted even after the user has exited Secure Folder or has turned off the device, and is decrypted when a user successfully authenticates himself / herself.

It can also be used alongside Knox Workspace, enabling two Knox container solutions at the same time.

This allows users to have access to both a dedicated work environment (Knox Workspace), as well as a secure personal area (Secure Folder).

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How To Migrate From My Knox To Secure Folder

Fortunately, Samsung made it easy to migrate your private data from My Knox to Secure Folder. Here are the steps :

  • Log into the My Knox app
  • Go to My Knox Settings, and select Backup and restore.
  • Backup your My Knox data (you’ll need a Samsung account to do this).
  • Install and setup Secure Folder, if you have not already done so.
  • Log into Secure Folder.
  • Go to Secure Folder Settings, and select Backup and restore.
  • Select Restore (using the same Samsung account), and you’re done!

if you are worried about the dangers of backing up your encrypted data to the cloud (it is encrypted!), you can use this alternative method :

  • Log into the My Knox app.
  • Copy the data out into the Samsung smartphone, or a secure computer
  • Install and setup Secure Folder, if you have not already done so.
  • Move the data into Secure Folder.

 

Samsung My Knox Termination Chronology

In early June 2017, Samsung sent out this email to all registered Samsung users :

First Samsung warning about terminating My Knox

My Knox will no longer be available on new Samsung devices in 2017. You may continue your secure space experience by setting up Secure Folder, available now from Galaxy Apps.

Secure Folder runs on Android N OS or higher versions only. It leverages the defence-grade Samsung Knox security platform to create a private, encrypted space on your Samsung Galaxy phone. Applications and data moved to Secure Folder are partitioned separately on the device and gain an additional layer of security and privacy.

To seamlessly transfer your private content between solutions, please back up your My Knox data and restore it to Secure Folder. To back up your My Knox data, go to My Knox settings > Backup and restore. Remember, a Samsung account is required to use this feature.

You can restore the backup data after setting up Secure Folder. Go to Secure Folder settings > Backup and restore > Restore.

You may use My Knox until its end-of-service date (which will be announced soon). However, be aware that we will not be actively maintaining the service or adding new features.

This was followed by this email on 15 November 2017, revealing its end-of-service date as 19 December 2017.

Samsung confirms end-of-life date for the My Knox service

Dear customers,

Thank you for using My Knox.

As previously announced, we will end support for My Knox on 19th December 2017. You will not be able to download My Knox from any app store after the end-of-service date.

You may use My Knox on your mobile device until you uninstall the application. However, you will be unable to log in to the My Knox portal to remotely manage your device (e.g. to reset your My Knox password or unlock My Knox).

If you have a phone that runs the Android N OS, we recommend transferring your private data in My Knox to Secure Folder, available at Google Play or Galaxy Apps, and on new Samsung phones such as the Galaxy Note 8. We also recommend backing up your My Knox data first, and restoring the data after you set up Secure Folder.

To back up My Knox data, go to My Knox Settings > Backup and restore > Back up My Knox data. Please note that a Samsung account is required to use the My Knox backup and restore feature.

If your phone does not support Secure Folder, then please back up the content to outside My Knox (e.g. using the Move to Personal mode feature).

For more information regarding My Knox termination, please visit My Knox FAQ .

We hope you have enjoyed your experience with My Knox. Samsung is committed to continuous innovation to provide you with the highest-quality products and services.

This final email was sent on 20 December 2017, noting that My Knox is now terminated :

The final Samsung email on the termination of the My Knox service

Dear customers,

Thank you for using My Knox.

As previously announced, we will terminate the My Knox service on 19th December 2017. You will not be able to download My Knox from any app store from then on. You will also be unable to log in to the My Knox portal to remotely manage your device.

You may use My Knox on your mobile device until you uninstall the application. However we highly recommend you to back up your data or move it to outside My Knox.

If your phone supports Secure Folder, we recommend transferring your private data in My Knox to Secure Folder, available at Google Play or Galaxy Apps, and on new Samsung phones such as the Galaxy Note 8. We also recommend backing up your My Knox data first, and restoring the data after you set up Secure Folder.

To back up My Knox data, go to My Knox Settings > Backup and restore > Back up My Knox data. Please note that a Samsung account is required to use the My Knox backup and restore feature.

However, if your phone does not support Secure Folder, then please back up the content to outside My Knox (e.g. using the Move to Personal mode feature).

We hope you have enjoyed your experience with My Knox. Thank you for using our service.

 

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The Logitech M238 Party Pack Unboxed!

Logitech recently sent us a mysterious package. It had a large notice on top saying “It’s A Mouse Party and Everyone’s Invited“, and it rattles when you shake it. Interesting!

It was not your typical Logitech parcel, of course. There were all sorts of party stuff inside, together with the star of the party – the new Logitech M238 Party Collection wireless mouse! Check it out!

 That was awesome, right? Thanks for the party pack, Logitech!

 

Logitech M238 Party Collection

The Logitech M238 Party Collection is the fun version of the Logitech M238 family of wireless mouse. It comes in 6 quirky designs – Flamingo, Popsicles, Cocktail, Spaceman, Toucan and Gorilla.

Don’t let its small, cutesy design fool you though. The Logitech M238 Party Collection mouse boasts an advanced 2.4 GHz wireless transmission link that is secured with 128-bit AES encryption. It is also so power-efficient, you can use it for up to 12 months on a single AA battery!

 

Logitech M238 Party Collection Specifications

SpecificationsLogitech M238 Party Collection
Sensor TechnologyOptical, 1000 dpi
Wireless Connectivity2.4 GHz wireless connectivity with USB receiver
- Secured with 128-bit AES (Advanced Encryption Standard)
- Wireless range : 10 meters / 33 feet (typical)
Buttons & Switches2 mouse buttons + scroll wheel + Connect / Power switch
Logitech Unifying Technology SupportNo
BatterySingle AA battery
- 12 months battery life (typical)
Mouse Dimensions & Weight57 mm wide x 95 mm long x 39 mm high
93 g (including battery)
Nano Receiver Dimensions19 mm wide x 14 mm long x 6 mm tall
Supported Operating SystemsMicrosoft Windows Vista, or newer
Mac OS X 10.5 or newer
Google Chrome OS
Linux kernel 2.6+, or newer
Package ContentsOne Logitech M238 Party Collection wireless mouse
One USB 2.4 GHz nano receiver
One AA non-rechargeable battery (pre-installed)
User documentation
Warranty1 Year Limited Hardware Warranty
Available DesignsFlamingo / Popsicles / Cocktail / Spaceman / Toucan / Gorilla

 

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